Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Lulav and Tesuvah

Once, just before Sukkos, Rav Yisroel of Ruzhin, zt”l, arrived at a certain town and all of the Jewish residents turned out to greet him. Among them was a certain “free-thinker” who was careless about mitzvah observance and liked to ridicule gedolim whenever he could.
Thinking that the arrival of the renowned Rebbe of Ruzhin would provide ideal material for leitzanus, he had decided to join the others. Just as he joined the crowd surrounding the Rebbe, Rav Yisroel began to tell a story:
“Once there was a great king who owned a very precious watch set with priceless gems. It kept perfect time, and it was always with him. One day, the king decided to travel and so he entrusted this prized possession to a favored nobleman. Before leaving, he warned the man: ‘Make sure to guard it with your life!’
“After the king set out, the nobleman just couldn’t resist. He took the watch out of its case and began to play around with it. Suddenly, it slipped from his hands, fell, and broke.”
The Rebbe then cried out, “Oy! The king’s watch! How can I return it to him this way?! What will the King say! How will I stand before Him!”
At this, the “free-thinker” fainted dead away!
Over his inert form, the Rebbe pronounced: “This man has fainted because he believes that his life, like the watch, cannot be repaired. But the truth is that this is what the straight-spined lulav comes to teach us: even though we’ve just passed through Yom Kippur and admitted our guilt for our many sins, we can still straighten ourselves out. We are not like the nobleman in the story! We can still repair all that we have destroyed!”

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